On Simplicity

May 15, 2008

Am I Just Faking It?

In reading other blogs, I come across quite a few items that make me question whether I’m truly a simplifier or not. After all, Xin Lu at Wise Bread, in a great post on living in small spaces, is willing to forgo a sectional for a beanbag. I, on the other hand, am not willing to ditch my sofa for a beanbag at this point. Am I just providing lip service to the idea of simplicity? After all, if you’ve read a few posts here, you know that I love clothing, I live in a big house, will probably never get rid of my television (dude, no MXC?), and so on… Does this mean I’m just faking it?

What Simplicity Means to Me

When it comes down to it, I don’t think I’m just faking it. This isn’t just a cosmetic choice for me. In my own life, simplicity isn’t a race to the bottom to see who can live with less. It’s about making conscious choices, being thoughtful in what I bring into my home and into the world, and focusing on relationships and experiences instead of stuff.

How do I accomplish this? What do I focus on? Here are my top priorities:

Not buying crap. I do a pretty damn good job of not buying things “just because.” Things I buy aren’t just bargains, they’re things that either promote health, bring me or someone else joy, or are really going to be useful.

Keeping media to a minimum. I don’t eschew television, but I also don’t watch that much of it. I stay away from sensationalistic news and gossip. For wimpy news, I stick to headlines instead of reading fluffy article after article after article.

Keeping my personal spaces clean and minimalist. I can breathe in a clean home. I can create. I can dream. I’d prefer an empty room in a beautiful color than a fully furnished room full of useless accessories. It still comes down to pure aesthetics, but it’s also about feeling like things have purpose.

Time commitments and lifestyle. I try to keep my time as my own to give myself freedom and peace of mind. With a job that’s essentially a community service, I can feel good keeping a good portion of my time off to myself to spend with family and friends.

Is Champagne Ever Simple?

I’ll agree–I’m not the traditional voluntary simplicist. While I do have a persistent and weird desire to be a survivalist, I always picture celebrating the first successful potato crop with a champagne toast. (I know.) However, simplicity isn’t just about cutting stuff out of your life. It’s about stripping life down to the bare essentials, throwing out all assumptions, and rebuilding the world around you to fit the dream you have, not the one you’re told to want or raised to believe in. After all, life should be rich. It just doesn’t have to be rich in money, or stuff, or accolades.

Big, Fat Faker

The verdict? I am a faker. A big one. Because in my eyes, simplicity is about having as much as possible. As much time as possible. As much love as possible. As much joy as possible. As much fun as possible. As much honesty as possible. As much thoughtfulness as possible. As much freedom as possible. I don’t want just a little, just enough to get by. No, I want a ton! Perhaps I should look into the availability of “onabundance”….

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May 7, 2008

A Simple Wardrobe Packed with Style

Filed under: Style — Serendipity @ 3:55 am

As those who know me are aware, I’m a wannabe fashionista and always have been.  I mean, I’m the child who was copying Oscar de la Renta fashions for her paper dolls at three years old.  In fifth grade, I was convinced that lime green, red, and leopard were neutrals. However, being a simplifier as well, my fashion urges tend to get squashed, simply because I can’t stand to be fussy. Still, I love to stand out and this is my way of dressing in a way that’s fun for me while keeping the daily question of “what to wear” easy and straightforward.

Everyone’s got their own take on style, this is just one strategy: the solid color strategy.  It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: just about everything in my closet is a solid color.  Shirts, tops, blouses, pants, and jackets–they’re almost all in my favorite solid colors.  Why?

Because I can grab just about any two items, throw them together, and look cool.  I don’t fuss about finding a shirt to match the color of the flowers in a particular skirt, because that involves a significant time investment and commitment to doing laundry on a regular basis.  (I may do laundry, but I refuse to commit to it. )  And usually, I can look bright and energetic and stylish, just by mixing contrasting solids. Brown pants and red shirt: awesome.  Lime top with coral cartigan: awesome.  Orange skirt and maroon top? Surprisingly cool.

This doesn’t mean I don’t wear prints, because I do.  Nearly all of my dresses are bold graphic prints, as are a few of my skirts.  But once I realized that my closet was full of solid pieces (not on purpose, I just tend to buy what I like and it happened to play out that way), I knew why I was having fewer problems picking outfits than in the past.

For me, the trick to keeping it interested lies in bold color matches and fun accessories.  Choose pieces that you wouldn’t automatically pair, like different bright colors.  Also, this works way better if you layer tops and have mostly neutral bottoms.  When I do wear non-neutral bottoms, they’re usually still pretty subdued shades, like brown, maroon, navy, light yellow and rust.  As for accessories, go for the gusto.  Necklaces with large colored pendants, chunky turquoise, multicolored beads on metalllic chains, and oversized metallic chains are my favorites.  Look for pieces in your favorite colors (mine are lime, coral, blue, brown, an aqua) so that they’ll go with a range of pieces. Metallic shoes are also a great way to add punch to your non-print outfits.

Have fun mixing and matching–you’ll never have to work hard to stand out again.

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